Graphic that displays illustrations of candy on an orange background

Halloween is meant to be spooky, but staying on top of your symptoms shouldn’t be scary. For those living with autoimmune diseases, trick-or-treating can feel more like a trick than a treat. Particularly for people living with type 1 diabetes, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or celiac disease, tons of candy and a long night of walking could lead to pain, discomfort or anxiety about managing exacerbated symptoms.

We’ve pulled together a list of tips to make sure you or your loved ones living with autoimmune diseases can stay in control of symptoms while enjoying all that the holiday has to offer.


Illustration of candy bar on orange background

Read the label

Before you chow down, make sure you know what you and your kids are unwrapping!

  • For those living with type 1 diabetes, make sure to check candy labels for grams of sugar, carbohydrates, and calories to make sure you know how much insulin you’ll need to balance insulin to carb ratios. 
  • With type 1 diabetes, it’s also important to remember that just because a food is sugar-free doesn't mean it also has fewer carbs or calories. Consider foods and drinks that are low-calorie or low-carb to satisfy your sweet tooth without risking an unsafe insulin to carb ratio. 
  • If you have Crohn’s disease, the Cleveland Clinic recommends avoiding candies made with sugar alcohols like sorbitol and mannitol, which can make gastrointestinal symptoms worse.
  • If you or a loved one lives with celiac disease, check out this list from the Celiac Disease Foundation to learn about which candies are safe and which ones you should avoid. 


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Plan your night

Living with an autoimmune disease means expecting the unexpected. Plan ahead to stay in control of symptoms.

  • If your child lives with type 1 diabetes, consider having a talk about waiting to eat candy until you get home to make sure you can regulate their sugar levels in a safe environment.
  • You might also want to keep insulin on hand in case your kids sneak a few pieces of candy while trick-or-treating.
  • If you or your child lives with IBD, build in restroom stops to your trick-or-treating route or consider staying close to home in case you need to use the bathroom.
  • For children or parents living with lupus, symptoms can appear out of nowhere and can put a damper on the fun. Set expectations together ahead of time for how long you’ll stay out and how many houses you’ll visit.


Illustration of popcorn in striped box

Fun alternatives

 If trick-or-treating is too stressful or too much of a temptation, try one of these fun alternatives!

  • They’ve met the tooth fairy—now introduce your children to the treat fairy! To make parting with candy easier, start a new tradition of leaving candy out with a note asking the treat fairy to swap it for a prize. Your kids will get a fun toy, and you don’t have to worry about exacerbated symptoms caused by sugar binges.
  • Check out the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Food Hub for some sugar-free or low-sugar snacks ideas. You can bake something new together, and enjoy a delicious treat after!
  • If your symptoms are too extreme for a big outing on the night-of, consider a family movie night, game night or share a festive dinner together in full costume.


Whether you, your kids, or a loved one live with autoimmune diseases, we hope these tips make for a healthy, happy Halloween!

Living With A Disease

October 24, 2018

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